Huston, We have a Few More Problems

Humans are not naturally inclined to science. We yearn for certainty, the sort of certainty mathematical equations could provide if only we could be certain of the factors. We cannot.

We don’t really yearn for mathematics, it is just another weird hieroglyphic language but for the allure of certainty. We really yearn for cosmology, for some shaman to tell us that first there was Hydrogen, which begat Helium, and so on until the pantheon is full give or take a few elements generated in accelerators.

Huston, we believed in the asthenosphere. We believed in hotspots and mantle plumes. We believed the ocean basins spread evenly away from the ridges like a giant basaltic recording tape, gently pushing and pulling the toy sailboats of continents about, all moving easily atop asthenia, a magical layer of plastic rock.

Huston, we have used earthquake waves to take pictures that make the things we believed in appear as childish cartoons.

Hawaii no Plume

Huston, here is the hotspot under Hawaii, where being the plume?

Incredulous, we lowered “thumpers” to the ocean floor and using computer models and “SKS” data were finally able to extract this image:


Huston, what the hell is that? How does it move relative to other hotspots? Where is the signal for asthenia (aside from the neatly drawn white line)? It gets worse.


This stuff looks like funky dentistry. The continents have roots deeper than the asthenosphere, the Moho, which is discontinuous and lacking mojo. The ocean basins and their magnetic stripes are cut by lineations we have no explanation for. There are granitic structures in the ocean floor that have no right to be there. Ocean floor sediments have been baked by ocean floor younger than the sediments themselves.

Huston, we are coming home. Home to a world less certain than the one we left.


This entry was posted in Asthenia, Geology, Large Igneous Provinces, Magnetic Reversals, Moho, Oceanography, Plate Tectonics, Seismic Tomography and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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